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Hives And Itching–The Psychogenic Factor

Not long ago, a young woman walked into my office with hives. She looked stressed. So I asked her about the hives and she said she didn’t know how they started. I then asked her to tell me about herself, and her job. She asked me why I was inquiring about these aspects of her life. I said to her “I need to know what I need to know. I need to know to better treat you.” She was reluctant, but then told me a lot about herself.

The patient lived on the Upper West Side and worked in a highessed business. She hated her job because of the pressure but said she took this job because she wanted the best private schools for her children and that she needed a lot of money. But it appeared she didn’t spend too much time with her children because she was working so hard. And that she didn’t have much personal time. I told her “look, your hives are being caused by the stress of this job and if you don’t deal with this stress they would become worse.” She cried but I think she got it.

A lot of allergies, particularly hives, can have a psychogenic factor. Hives, also known as pruritus ,often have a psychopathology associated with symptoms. According to the website,, “Types of psychopathology that may be associated with this type of pruritus include individuals with compulsive or impulsive disorders, or delusional disorders…In some cases, it may be difficult to establish whether it is the sensation of itching that provokes the desire to scratch or whether pruritus is a consequence of compulsive scratching.”

In another interesting article on the subject by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology it states “Psychogenic itch is induced in response to the chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine. These chemicals influence stress, depression and delusional parasitosis (a false belief of parasite infestation). It can be treated with anti-depressants and antipsychotic medications.”

An allergist/immunologist that has experience in identifying psychosomatic symptoms of hives and itching can successfully treat the disease and its symptoms.

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